Lionel Messi has admitted that though the current Nigerian team are ‘unknown’ to him and his Argentina side, the Super Eagles physicality could make them very difficult to beat when both teams clash in their final Group D game at the 2018 World Cup.
Argentina and Nigeria are scheduled to meet for the fifth time at the World Cup in Saint Petersburg on the June 26 with Nigeria yet to record a win over the La Albiceleste in their last four games at the in 1994, 2002, 2010 and 2014.
Both teams will also face Iceland and Croatia in Group D.
“Our challenge is to be champions,” Messi told UK tabliod, Express.co.uk.
“We know it won’t be easy but I’m certain that Argentina has a squad capable of being a champion in Russia. If the players all believe the same then we can be contenders.
“If Argentina goes out there and play as we know we can then it will be very difficult to beat us. We have experienced World Cups before and we know that every rival will come out to try and beat us and play the game as if it is a final. That always makes it more complicated. But we are used to it.”
“It will be important to start strongly. Iceland did well in their last tournament so the first match will not be comfortable. But these are the ones to win if you don’t want the next matches to be even more complicated.
“Croatia is a good team with players in the big European leagues and that makes them dangerous. We don’t know so much about Nigeria but the African teams are normally compact, tough and strong. So it will be no walkover.”
He also played down talks of him retiring from international football after the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
“I don’t want to speak about my future. For now I’m only concerned about the present and doing the best I can in this World Cup.”